GLENDALE, Ariz. – Surely Jurgen Klinsmann and the US national team will reflect more on their Copa America Centenario experience as some players head for a vacation and others back to their MLS clubs.
But their first reaction after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Colombia in the third-place match was that the tournament went fairly well for the team.
Friendlies and World Cup qualifying lie ahead. And that’s where the team will turn its attention.
"We showed that the national team is a team that can compete. We didn’t get played off the pitch tonight,” said defender Geoff Cameron. “We can take the positives out of this. We got out of the group and made it to the semifinals and lost to a good side. At the same time we’ve got to keep it going. We’ve got qualifiers coming up and I think we can go in there with our chest out a little bit more and be confident and be eager to show our true ability.”
Players hailed the accomplishment of making it as far as they did, though losing to Argentina was a reality check and falling to Colombia for a second time was an inability to finish numerous chances.
“Overall it was a good tournament. I don’t think people would have written us in the semifinal and top four team in this tournament,” said defender DeAndre Yedlin. “At the end of the day, it was a good showing for us.”
Forward Bobby Wood said the team grew from the experience. Klinsmann echoed those thoughts and might have saved his position after losing the opening match and rallying the US to the semifinals.
Klinsmann played Saturday to win and earn medals for his team on home soil, as shown in his lineup decisions. Defenders Michael Orozco and Matt Besler played out of necessity with John Brooks and Fabian Johnson injured, and grizzled veteran Tim Howard, in for Brad Guzan, turned back Father Time with two big saves to keep the US close.
Klinsmann also found playing time for what could be the future of the national team, newcomers Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe, off the bench once again. He wasn’t questioned about his choice of players after the game.
And while a pat on the back from the opposing coach may not be enough to satisfy US fans who expect more from the national team, Klinsmann thought it a classy gesture.
“Throughout the tournament you saw so many good pieces, so many things that make us optimistic looking forward with this group,” Klinsmann said. “Even Jose Pekerman said after the game, ‘You guys are growing, you guys are getting really stronger.’ Just nice from him.”